Macedonian league champions Vardar Skopje take on Fenerbahce in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Play-Off round, with both keen to gain an advantage ahead of the reverse fixture.
UEFA Europa League – Play-Off Round Thursday 17th August – 19:00 UK Time
Vardar won their tenth Macedonian league title last season and earned themselves a place in the qualifying rounds for the Champions League.
After eliminating Swedish champions Malmo in the first qualifying round, after a 4-2 aggregate victory, they advanced to take on FC Copenhagen.
They won the first leg 1-0 at home to the Danish side, and looked to be heading through to the next round. They were trailing 2-1 with less than twenty minutes remaining of the second leg and their opponents down to ten men, which had the scores level on aggregate but Vardar with an away goal.
However, things went wrong and Copenhagen netted two goals in the last fifteen minutes to win 4-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.
That demotes the Macedonian side to the Europa League, where they must get through a play-off if they want to advance to the group stage.
Domestically, their season has got off to a poor start with an opening day defeat at Shkendija.
Fenerbahce started their Europa League campaign in the third qualifying round against Sturm Graz.
A 2-1 away win gave them an advantage and they earned a place in the play-off round with a 1-1 draw in the second leg to win 3-2 on aggregate.
They started their domestic campaign with a 2-2 draw at Goztepe, which means they are unbeaten in three competitive games after a poor pre-season in which they only won one friendly out of six.
They come into this fixture knowing the first leg result is of vital importance. If they can pick up a win or draw here, they will head into the second leg at home with a big advantage.
Head to Head
This is the first competitive fixture between these sides.
Betting Odds and Predictions
Vardar may be the Macedonian league champions, have home advantage, and have already beaten both the Swedish and Danish league champions this season, but they are a massive underdog in this match.
The home side are 13/2 at Ladbrokes for the victory here, with Fenerbahce priced as the 4/9 favourites. The draw is at 16/5 and could prove to be a decent bet.
Although the betting odds suggest a one-sided match with the away team coming out on top, we believe there’s a big chance of the home team getting a surprise victory here. As already noted, they have beaten the league champions of Sweden and Denmark at home already this season, and will come into this match confident of the win regardless of what the bookmakers think.
Therefore, we would not risk a bet in the match result market as the chances of losing are far too high.
A bet we are much more confident of gaining a profit from is Both Teams to Score. Vardar have played four matches in European competition this season, with both teams scoring in three of those, and both sides also scored in both legs of Fenerbahce’s previous round tie.
The odds of Both Teams to Score here are 1/1 and that gives punters the potential of securing a nice profit.
Top Betting Tip
Our top betting tip for this match is Both Teams to Score, at odds of 1/1 with Ladbrokes.